Joe Buck is about to have the most difficult day of his professional life, because unlike his Jose Altuve home run call from the American League Championship Series, he must speak.
This, you see, is the run-up to Game 3 of the World Series, the one Buck must introduce to a Fox audience numbering in the ten of millions, and here are the things that have happened during the break.
- Brandon Taubman, a once-promising baseball scientist with the Houston Astros, screamed at some women reporters about the virtues of a reliever who (a) has a domestic violence episode in his past and (b) blew the save in the game he won that required Taubman’s hysterically shrill response.
- The Astros lied with incandescent brass about the incident and condemned one of the reporters, Stephanie Apstein, until a relative army of corroborators backed Apstein’s story in all respects. Then the team apologized tepidly after an investigation of the incident in which MLB no doubt asked one question to a number of people: “Are you freakin’ killing us with this?”
- Then they sent out general manager Jeff Luhnow to give an apology that lacked only sincerity, thoroughness, and coherence. Probably because trotting out owner Jim Crane to make it worse than that was, as they say in White House PR school, contraindicated. After all, this was just about lying fake-news media scum, right?
- Veteran umpire Rob Drake magnanimously offered the use of his AR-15 rifle to help President Donald Trump thin out the objectionable herd when the revolution starts. He later apologized, and to his credit in mitigation, he did a better job of it than Luhnow did. Then again, he could have held his own press conference, spun around and dropped his pants in contemptuous defiance and still done a better job than Luhnow.
- And because we all know that sports and politics never mix, President Trump announced he intends to attend Game 5 in Washington. A request by the Nationals to hold the game in Montreal to honor their progenitors the Expos (Justin Trudeau has offered to throw out the first puck) is pending.
Okay, that last line is untrue, but damn it, it should be. I mean, someone should understand the depth of the optic deficiencies that have encrusted this week. The only thing MLB can be proud of this week, other than the Nationals’ play, is the dismal ratings. Maybe they can claim none of it ever happened because nobody ever saw it.
That doesn’t help Buck, though, whose job before Game 3 is to hang enough gaudy earrings on this multiheaded pig that the audience forgets the hot tar-like messes that have commingled around this series.
Buck has been a much-maligned but largely quality bit of televised business for years now, with his only crime being he doesn’t root openly enough for both teams simultaneously. He doesn’t deserve the task of prefacing his remarks this evening by throwing up into a bucket. That, though, is the job as it presents itself today—Buck has to put a happy face on a demonic balaclava. He can’t just go on air and say, “Welcome to Nationals Park, which is about the only place that hasn’t housed some form of embarrassment this week.”
Were I him (and think we can all agree nobody wants that), I’d open with, “With John Smoltz, Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal, I’m Joe Buck, and I speak for us all when I pray to the God who crushed the Philistines and sent locusts and frogs to Egypt that this series ends Saturday night. Now down to Sean Doolittle and his marionette Skeeter to save what little is left of our wretched souls.”
Ray Ratto thinks Arnold Rothstein would be a significant upgrade from business class at this point.